Born and brought up in Notting Hill, home affairs correspondent Freddie Lyon is a grammar school boy who excelled. His mother, May, died two years ago, leaving him alone to cope with his father, Malcolm, who is struggling with dementia. Freddie is brilliant, more than he knows. Outspoken and often brighter than those he works with, his contemporary, Bel, is one of the few people who totally get him. A meeting of opposites, Bel sees in Freddie a similar determination to rebel against his upbringing and to forge a new life in a society free of the shackles of class and wealth.
An agitator and provocateur, Freddie has worked with Bel for the last four years and fallen in love with her, a fact he keeps close to his heart. Freddie has never had a committed relationship; this is in part due to his experience during the war as a teenage evacuee with the Elms family, and the impact living with the aristocracy had on him. Freddie affects a witty disregard for the upper classes and the world they represent, but when The Elms' daughter, Ruth, comes to him for help he is once more reminded of the guilt he felt on leaving her all those years ago.